The 21st Show

Midwest Pollution Impacting The Gulf; How Black Pharmacists Improve Care; ‘Red Flag’ Gun Case

Rivers draining into the Gulf of Mexico carry nutrients from fertilizers, contributing to blooms of phytoplankton seen here. (Nov. 13, 2009 photo)

Rivers draining into the Gulf of Mexico carry nutrients from fertilizers, contributing to blooms of phytoplankton seen here. (Nov. 13, 2009 photo) Jeff Schmaltz/NASA Earth Observatory

Every year, a ‘dead zone’ of water, starved of oxygen, forms off the Gulf Coast. It can kill fish and marine life. It turns out it’s mostly caused by pollution from here in the Midwest. Plus, health care that meets the cultural and social needs of patients can actually improve health outcomes. We’ll hear about the independent, black-owned pharmacies that are providing that kind of care. And a state law is being used for the first time in McLean County. It allows a judge to take away guns from who someone might be a danger to themselves or others, at the request of police or family members.

The 'dead zone': it's an oxygen-starved area of water that forms every year off of the Gulf Coast. The area becomes inhospitable to fish and can harm marine life, and is mostly caused by agricultural runoff from farms here in the Midwest. Wastewater from cities like Chicago is also a contributor. 

This year the dead zone is especially large - about the size of Massachusetts.  

To learn more about the dead zone and how Midwest pollution contributes to it, we heard from David Kidwell, an oceanographer with NOAA in Maryland and Josh Mogerman with the Natural Resources Defense Council. We were also joined by Acy Cooper, a shrimper and president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, and Dick Lyons, a farmer in Montgomery County and a member of the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy committee.


There are all kinds of gaps in our health care system when it comes to black and white patients. Black men and women, for example, are at greater risk for illnesses like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

There’s also a cultural gap, and it makes a big difference when black patients seek medical help.

Only 6% of doctors and 7% of pharmacists are black. That means black patients are more likely to be treated by someone who doesn’t look like them or share their experience. And multiple studies show that when patients feel like their social, cultural, and racial backgrounds are acknowledged as part of their medical care, they can see better health outcomes.

Here in Illinois, though, some of that care is being provided by independent, black-owned pharmacies.

Cara Anthony reported on this for Kaiser Health News, where she’s the Midwest correspondent. Dr. Lakesha Butler is a professor of pharmacy practice at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and president of the National Pharmaceutical Association. Bernard Macon works as a computer programmer and lives in O’Fallon, Ill. with his wife and two kids.


A state law is being used in McLean County for the first time. The Firearms Restraining Order law, also known as the ‘Red Flag’ law, is meant to keep firearms out of the hands of people who could pose a risk to themselves or others. It allows police or concerned relatives to ask a judge to take away a person’s guns for up to six months. 

About fifteen states have such laws, and Illinois’ went into effect this year after being signed by then-Governor Bruce Rauner. 

Ryan Denham is a reporter at our partner station WGLT in Normal.

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